Rabbit liver tRNA nucleotidyltransferase can be used to substitute nucleotides within the -C-C-A sequence of tRNA or to add nucleotides following this sequence. These anomolous reactions of the enzyme have been used to prepare radioactively-labeled synthetic tRNA precursors which mimic the structure of the natural precursors. Under appropriate conditions synthetic precursors of defined structure can be made. In this paper we describe the synthesis of tRNA-C-[14C]U and tRNA-C-C-A-[14C]-C, which are representative of tRNA precursors containing altered residues within the -C-C-A sequence or with extra residues following the normal 3′terminus. A variety of other possible precursors can also be prepared. These synthetic tRNA precursors have already proved useful for isolation of possible tRNA processing nucleases.
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